Fun Friday: From Rescue Dog to Reading Pal

Touching story of Brittany the 9/11 rescue dog who retires to life as a reading companion for children. I love the idea of taking children who are scared to read aloud and teaching them to read to dogs. They truly are great listeners.  Makes me want to train my own writing-buddy dog for the job.

If you could train your dog to do anything, what would it be?


Fun Friday: 5 Behind-the-Scenes Steps to a Great Book Cover

CoverModel CollageWith more and more authors turning to Indie publishing, there’s so many things an author has to do herself. Cover designing is one of them. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to make a great book cover, and how indie author Lora Young tackled the process for her debut novel, Malicious Mischief.

  1. Book a great cover model, or just ask a friend to help out. When author Lora Young asked her friend Kinsey Parker to model for her cover, I bet she never dreamed the pictures would turn out this great.
  2. Rent or borrow some historical costumes. Yes, finally a reason to dress up! Since it’s so hard to find great historical photos, sometimes you’ve got to roll up your sleeves and DIY.
  3. Book a great photographer. Luckily for Lora, her daughter Rebekah Young is a fabulous photographer. I think the railroad track pic is my fav!
  4. Find the perfect location. Need railroad tracks? Go find some. Want a historical building as the backdrop? Find one in your area. Some people are stingy about permission, so always ask if it’s private property. But if it’s a public place and you’re taking the pic, it’s usually fair game.
  5. Hire a fabulous cover designer. Lora found another indie author who is also a great cover designer, Lynette Bonner. Find the right graphic designer for your book genre, or you can try to DIY this, too. Lynnette has a great video tutorial on YouTube you could check out, Indie Cover Design with Photoshop CS6

Those are just a few tips from a (maybe) future book cover designer. You can always use stock photos for book covers, but you lose some originality. That’s why I love Lora’s idea of organizing her own photo shoot with family and friends. Now she’s got original cover models to add flair to the stock photos Lynnette used in her background. Totally brilliant!

Bonus Feature – The Crash at Crush

Here’s a clip about a publicity stunt that went horribly wrong on the MKT Railway, the setting for Lora Young’s Malicious Mischief. Not the best way to dispose of old trains. Though Mr. Crush was the first to try it, unfortunately he wasn’t the last.

Want to Read More about the MKT Railway?

Check out Lora Young’s debut historical romantic suspense/mystery for a story that’s just as dramatic, but not quite so tragic as the Crash at Crush.

MaliciousMischiefFrontFinal6x9Malicious Mischief
Lora Young

Her most annoying trait is the one she needs the most.

Delia Eastman returns home from teachers’ college with two goals: find a teaching position and sidestep her mother’s insistence on finding her a husband. But employers don’t care for women who are smarter than they. Neither do suitors. As she struggles to find her place, she discovers her sleepy riverboat town has turned into a powder-keg of rivalry between the steamships and the railroads.

Increasingly violent vandalism on the railroad brings her face-to-face with Endy Webster, a handsome trainmaster whose investigation into the crimes leads him to the door of a prominent steamship owner—Delia’s father.

As Delia tries to clear her father’s name, she keeps tangling with Endy. He’s intelligent. He’s charming. And he’s guarding secrets. Thinking he might know more than he’s telling, Delia reluctantly agrees to collaborate with him to solve the crimes. With the vandalism becoming deadly, they’ll need every scrap of intelligence and logic to stay alive. Working together may not be their first choice, but it might be their last.

Fun Friday: Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Happy Halloween!

Here’s a little treat for your Halloween, a clip from my fav 90s kid’s show Are You Afraid of the Dark? Who says Nickelodeon never had edge? This under-rated gem featured big stars like Ryan Gosling, Neve Campbell and Jewel Staite before the were famous. Now you can find all the episodes on YouTube. This clip illustrates exactly why no one dares to go trick-or-treating anymore … unless they’re really brave.

Want More AyAOTD? fun? Check out these sites:

25 Future Stars Who Appeared on Are You Afraid of the Dark? via Mental Floss

Features a list of stars and clips from their respective Are You Afraid of the Dark? episodes

Tale of the 90’s Zingers via Movies & Mayhem

The best insults, pickup lines, and name-calling oddities from the show.

What’s your favorite Are You Afraid of the Dark episode? I know, there’s SO many to choose from.

Fun Friday: 10 Jobs For Wombats

It’s easy to mistake these funny-looking marsupials for giant squirrels on steroids. They even remind me of Rodents of Unusual Size—1 of the 3 terrors of the Fire Swamp from The Princess Bride. Not to worry. Apparently they’re taming the R.O.U.S.’s in Australia and giving them jobs. What has the world come to?

Would you give on of these furry guys a job or send them back to the Fire Swamp?

Next week is Halloween Week here on the blog. I’ll be posting about the weirdest fears ever. Come back … if you dare.

7 Celebs Born on Wombat Day, Just Like Me

22 balloon pic

It’s my birthday today, and I’ve got 8 new reasons why October 22nd is the best day of the year! Not only do I share my fabulous day with 7 awesome celebrities, but today is also international Wombat Day.  Never heard of a wombat before? Me either, until I did some research for my last post. So Happy Wombat Day, and Happy Birthday to these fine celebs.

1. Jeff Goldblum


That Jurassic Park, Independence Day, Big Chill guy who was born 31 years before me. Yep, that makes him twice as old as I am today. Wink, winky. 😉

2. Jon Foreman


This Switchfoot front man heads up my second favorite band of all-time, writes amAHzing songs, and performs cool live shows. I’m seriously stoked that we share the same birthday. That totally rocks!

3. TobyMac

An inspiring singer/rapper who was one of my first CD buys in his early DC talk rapping days. Another amazing singer and songwriter.

4. Christopher Lloyd

The crazy comedian/actor famous for Back to the Future and his Einstein hair.

5. Franz Liszt

The cool composer guy whose pieces I can never name because they always sound like Tchaikovsky or someone else. He’s THAT good, people.

6. Barbara Potter

No, I’m not talking about unmarried me. Turns out there’s a tennis player with the EXACT same name I toted around for 23 years. (Tennis fans are tossing their rackets at me in cyberspace.) “Ahem, Barbara Potter, meet Barbara Potter Hartzler. And by the way, happy birthday to you both.” Strange world, huh?

Debbie Macomber7. Debbie Macomber

Since I’m an author I had to include this best-selling author famous for her Mrs. Miracle and Cedar Cove books, both made into Hallmark movies and TV series respectively. Believe me, you’ll understand the need for a feel good Mrs. Miracle movie when Christmas comes around.

There were tons of other awesome people who share my birthday including Robinson Cano, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and a Hanson brother. Happy birthday to us all, and to all a Happy Wombat day! 🙂

For more awesome October 22nd birthdays go to Famous, or check out your own birthday to see who else is awesome right along with you! For more on Wombat Day check out yesterday’s post 4 Reasons Why Wombats Are Better Than Koalas and Kangaroos.

Your turn. Who do you share your birthday with? Better make it good, mine are hard to top.



4 Reason Why Wombats Are Better Than Koalas and Kangaroos

I’m guessing you’ve heard of Australia’s famous cuddly  koalas and kangaroos. But I bet you’ve never heard of the lesser-known hero—the wombat. If you’re curious, here’s 4 reasons why the equally adorable wombats beat koalas and kangaroos any day.

1. They’re Giant Furballs

Courtesy Wendy Mophett via Wombania.comFor starters, wombats are THE most ridiculous looking animals. C’mon with those funny noses, batty ears, and furry butts! Koalas, you’ve been crushed.

2. They Keep a Low Profile

At least in America, that is. Everyone’s heard about kangaroos and koalas. They’re so last year.  Who ever heard of a wombat before? Now that I have,  just want to take one home with me. I hope they play nice with scruffy shih-tzus.

3. They Have Their Own Day

Take that you other Aussie marsupials! These adorable little guys have their own Wombat Day, also known as Hug a Wombie Day or Wombats of the World Unite Day.  It’s also on my birthday, but hey, I’m willing to share. Especially if someone wants to buy me a new pet. 😉

4. They Dance!

You guessed it, I saved the best for last. These little, and sometimes big, ground crawlers are usually friendly and love to jump and play. Don’t take my word for it. See for yourself:

Dancing Wombat

For more info about wombats check out Wombania. Photo courtesy Wendy Mophett via

What do you think? Are you convinced Wombats are better than Koalas and Kangaroos?

Fun Friday: Travelling Gnomes?

Apparently this is what UK gnomes do when their owners leave for work! Makes me want to book that trip to London right now. I have a feeling my garden gnome goes to Hobbiton in New Zealand without me. How rude!

If you were a travelling gnome, where would you go? Post your gnome’s travel pics and adventures here …